In a first for Assam, newly sworn-in Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma named a woman legislator as the finance minister of the state. Ajanta Neog, a five-time MLA from Golaghat, was given charge of the finance ministry that was held by Sarma during the first term of the BJP government, led by Sarbananda Sonowal.
Neog, a law graduate from Gauhati University, had held the PWD department in the late Tarun Gogoi’s government before switching over from the Congress to the saffron camp in December 2020. She was introduced to politics by Gogoi after her husband Nagen Neog was killed by the ULFA in 1996.
Neog, 46, won the Golaghat seat with a margin of 9,036 votes in the recently held Assembly elections. She has been winning from Golaghat since 2001 and now holds the record of being the longest-serving woman MLA from the state.
Excited about her new role, Neog told CNN News18, “I am very happy that the honourable chief minister has entrusted this responsibility on me this is the time to work for the people who have elected me and brought me into the government our focus right now will be to take on the challenges at hand — handling the COVID-19 pandemic.”
When told about critics pointing at her lack of experience in the department, Neog said, “In the earlier government, I had worked with both PWD as well as the planning department and that give me a decent exposure to the finance department. I am sure I will learn a lot more along the way,” she added.